When Damien Simbeck, TVA Watershed Representative, offered to lead a nature walk through the Marbut Bend Trail in West Limestone as part of our Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO, we were thrilled! It is the perfect addition to our event.
The Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO will be held on Saturday, April 25th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Big Spring Memorial Park in Athens and is designed to encourage guests to protect and enjoy the beautiful world that surrounds us. Here in the Tennessee Valley, it surrounds us indeed!
A walk into nature is the best way to develop an appreciation for the biodiversity of our state and the amazing world of living things. Without such an appreciation, we would not concern ourselves with how our daily actions might positively or negatively affect our environment. This focus of this particular walk will be wetland ecology, migratory songbirds, and identification of frog calls.
Limestone County can boast of having 17 free trails for residents and visitors to enjoy. One of the newest additions is the Marbut Bend Walking Trail in West Limestone. The trail was constructed in 2014 as a partnership between TVA, the Limestone County Commission, and a local farmer who leases the property for hay production. It was opened to the public as part of National Public Lands Day activities on September 27, 2014.
The acreage on which the trail was built is very near the Elk River and was flooded by beavers a few years ago. Damien Simbeck explained that it is TVA's policy to let areas stay a wildlife habitat as long as the flooding is not affecting prime timber or private property. The area, which attracts a variety of wildlife including wood ducks, blue-winged teals, great blue herons, great egrets, migratory birds, fish, frogs, beavers, deer, raccoons and more, was the perfect location for a walking trail.
The trail is 1.1 miles in length, including 4,700 feet of crushed stone path and 1,100 feet of elevated boardwalk through a beaver pond. The area includes the beaver pond, open fields maintained by prescribed fire and hay production, and forested shorelines (riparian buffers) and wetlands. The trail is open year-round for public use, though caution is needed during hunting season.
A bench positioned along the boardwalk provides a nice resting place to sit and watch the events in and around the beaver pond.
The Marbut Bend Walking Trail is located on Hwy. 99, about 11 miles northwest of Athens. The entrance to the trail site is located on the left (heading west) 1.5 miles past the Elk River Bridge.
The walk will begin at 7:00 a.m. and end around 9:00 a.m., giving everyone time to head back into Athens for the opening of the Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO at 10:00 a.m. Bring binoculars if you have them, however, they are not required. Insect repellant is recommended.
For information about the nature walk or Earth Day & Outdoor EXPO activities, contact KALB at 256-233-8000 or the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association at 256-232-5411.
By: Lynne Hart